Monday, May 13, 2013

Not-to-Do List

For anyone who is new to children's publishing, here are a few common mistakes that are easily avoided. 
  1. Don’t get an illustrator for your picture book manuscript. It’s the publisher’s job to assign an illustrator to the project. So if you are planning to go the traditional publishing route, you don’t need to include illustrations. In fact, unless you are a professional illustrator, sending illustrations in with your manuscript is a sign of an amateur writer. A few sparse illustration notes are acceptable if absolutely necessary, but for the most part, editors and agents will be able to “get” your story without any visuals. They do this every day.
  2. Don’t mention anything about how much your child or grandchild loves your book. This is the equivalent of writing “my mother thinks I’m really smart” on your college application. Of course your child loves your story, but it tells the editor or agent absolutely nothing about the quality of your manuscript. It means your child loves you. Which is wonderful, but don’t put it in a query letter.
  3.  Don’t rush. It’s not a race. Too many writers are in such a hurry that they send out a manuscript that still needs work. Or they send out a manuscript to any publisher at all without taking the time to find the best fit. That is a formula for automatic rejection. Be deliberate. Be purposeful. Be professional.
  4.  Don’t worry about copyrights. There are all kinds of ideas about mailing your manuscript to yourself, or paying fees to register the copyright paperwork. Forget all that. The moment you write anything, your writing belongs to you legally, lawfully, copyrightedly, and every other way. The only way that changes is if you sign a contract that assigns rights to someone else.
  5.  Don’t be paranoid about someone stealing your idea. Only you can write your story. Even if someone else were to have the same idea, no two people would write it in the same way. You wouldn’t want to plaster your manuscript all over the internet, but sharing your manuscript discreetly with a writing group or a critique partner is a good idea.
  6.  Don’t give up! It’s very rare that a writer’s first written work gets published. Keep moving forward. What will you write next? Develop new projects, try a different kind of writing, practice patience and perseverance. You’ll need it in this business. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Who Taught You To Read?

by Chris Sorensen

I had a conversation this past week with one of my children that made me stop and think about how they learn to read.  Who teaches my children to read?  I would like to think I have added something positive to their life in this category, but the answer to the question is without a doubt my dear wife, their mother.

Then I thought about my own life growing up.  Who taught me to read?  And I got the same answer, my mother.  I took it one step further and had wonderful conversations with some friends and colleagues at work and almost without exception, everyone I talked to said they had learned to read from their mother.

Reading allows us to learn.  Learning gives us power.  I am so grateful that my mother gave me power.  Power to understand other people’s lives through the written word.  Power to think for myself as I read and ponder life’s questions and my purpose for being on this Earth.  Power to explore other worlds and to have the opportunity to entertain myself at just about any place or any time, as long as I have a book with me.  Thank you mom for giving me that power.

As we approach Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, I hope you take time to appreciate the power that your mother instilled in you.  If your mother is still in your life, you can thank them with a note or a phone call for all the endless hours of lap time and picture books.  If your mother is not with you still, you can show your appreciation by picking up a book and continuing to grow the power she instilled in you so long ago.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful, selfless, and dedicated woman out there who gave us so many powerful things to bless our life - including the power to read.